What Is the Treatment for Schistosomiasis?

Erin J. Hill

Most commonly treatment for schistosomiasis involves the use of anti-parasitic medications and sometimes corticosteroids if any organ damage or other complications have occurred. Additionally, medication may be used to cut down on patient symptoms so that they are more comfortable. Occasionally, organ transplant may be needed if the liver, spleen, or another organ system has been damaged beyond repair. This is rare, and with early treatment for schistosomiasis, patients often make a full recovery. Without treatment, the condition can be fatal.

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Doctor

Schistosomiasis is a condition that is caused by a parasitic worm. It is spread through fresh water in rivers, lakes, and streams and is most common in tropical climates. The worm is often spread through freshwater snails which live in these habitats. Some forms separate from the snails and enter the water where they can come into contact with humans. When this happens, the worm burrows into the skin, or is ingested if someone drinks infested water.

Once inside the body the worm enters the liver or spleen to finish maturing. Adults then invade further into the body and infect various areas like the digestive tract, liver, spleen, or rarely, even the brain. Treatment for schistosomiasis should be begun right away in order to prevent serious complications.

The condition has a chance to do serious damage to the organ systems. Treatment for schistosomiasis, however, is often very effective at treating the illness. Patients can often even expect a full recovery once treatment is complete. Anti-parasitic medications are typically the first line of defense since they are able to kill the parasite that causes the condition.

When organ damage has been done, steroids may also be used in the treatment for schistosomiasis in order to repair the damaged tissues. This is often successful if the damage is not extensive. If the condition is allowed to progress, the organs may be greatly affected. Sometimes this damage is irreversible and surgery or transplant may be necessary.

In areas where schistosomiasis is prevalent, any person showing symptoms should be immediately tested and treatment should begin right away. Common symptoms include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes and inflammation of the liver and spleen. The lungs may also be affected. Those living in tropical areas should avoid swimming in potentially infected waters, and drinking water should be heated or purified before consuming.

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